With the fantasy baseball season almost upon us, let’s take a look at some draft trends taking place amongst outfielders, good and bad. We’ll use ESPN’s live draft trend page to see who’s on the rise and who’s falling down draft boards over the past week.
Rising ADP Trends
A.J. Pollock, LAD (+6.7)
Over the last seven days, nobody’s ADP has risen quite as high as A.J. Pollock’s has, at least in ESPN formats. The Dodgers lineup, with the addition of Freddie Freeman, is projected to be the best in baseball and Pollock is projected to hit near the bottom of it. That said, there should ALWAYS be traffic on the basepaths when he’s at the dish considering it’s Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger expected to hit in front of him.
Pollock’s dual-threat ability has likely come and gone, especially with his laundry list of injuries piling up, but he still has a lot of pop left in that bat. In just 117 games last year, Pollock belted 21 home runs and drove in 69 runs. He had a career-best .375 wOBA in 2021 and has now posted back-to-back seasons with a .530+ SLG%, the first two of his career.
Everyone likes a good power surge, which Pollock has been on for a few years now. He’s posted an ISO of .200 or better in five consecutive seasons and his two best marks came in the last two seasons. So what can we attribute the power surge to?
It’s possibly the best number of barrels he’s had in his career. He’s taken a significant jump in barrel rate, notching 10.5% in 2020 and 11.1% in ‘21. Correlated with that has been a spike in HardHit%, xSLG, and xwOBA.
Health has always been a concern with Pollock as the 117 games he played in ‘21 was the most since 2015. If he could approach 130 games, though, we’re talking about a late-round value that could hit 25 homers and steal 25 bases.
Kris Bryant, COL (+6.1%)
It took one day of Kris Bryant being a Rockie for his draft stock to take a ride to the moon with Sir Richard Branson. On Wednesday, Bryant signed a seven-year, $182M deal with the Rockies.
It’s well documented how much of an offensive dominant ballpark Coors Field is. Over the last three years, Baseball Savant has it rated as the third-best offensive stadium in the game as seen in the graphic below.
That likely increases too with the changes Camden Yards is going through this season. Bryant has five 25+ home run campaigns on his resume and twice he’s reached 30. He has the chance to do that with regularity now considering the Coors Field buff.
Bryant’s swing caters to Coors Field as well. Over the course of his career, the 30-year old has largely been a flyball hitter, notching a 43% clip compared to a 35% groundball rate. The more Bryant can put the ball into the air in Colorado, the more likely the power stroke returns. It’s hard not to be a lot more bullish on Bryant heading into the 2022 campaign considering where he’s playing his home games.
Mark Canha, NYM (+5.6%)
The versatility Mark Canha showed in 2021 was a new wrinkle, as he not only hit double-digit home runs but stole double-digit bags as well. It was the first time in his career he did so, and now he’s going to a new team hoping to replicate that and more.
There’s a lot to like about Canha as he’s become an elite OBP guy to go along with the double-digit HR and SB potential. He’s notched a 12.3% USG rate or better for three consecutive seasons, which he’s paired with a .358+ OBP.
Because he’s always on base, he’s been a guy who can score a lot of runs as he’s twice reached 80 runs scored in his last three seasons. The one in which he didn’t, he played just 59 games.
Canha’s a multi-category stat-sheet stuffer that is very viable late in drafts, which is why we’re seeing his ADP rise the way it has in the past week.
Falling ADP Trends
Alex Kirilloff, MIN (-19.3%)
The 24-year old former first-round pick, Alex Kirilloff, has really flashed sky-high potential during his time in the minors and even last year in the majors. However, injuries have derailed everything to this point in his career.
What could really kill Kirilloff’s fantasy potential and impact is that he does not reach base, or at least he didn’t in his debut season before it was derailed by injury. He had an abysmal .299 OBP which was watered down by the inability to draw walks, posting a 6.1% walk rate.
With Kirilloff projected as the designated hitter this year, the Minnesota Twins' addition of Gary Sánchez didn’t help his prospects any. Both Sanchez and Miguel Sanó will likely spend time at DH as well, so Kirilloff’s draft drop-off makes sense.
Tyler O’Neill, STL (-14.3%)
2021 was the year of Tyler O’Neill. He hadn’t topped 61 games or hit more than nine homers in any of his first three seasons in baseball, but he exploded with 34 homers over 138 games last year. He’s also a stolen base threat, swiping 15 bags last year, so I’m not entirely sure where the drop-off is coming from.
O’Neill had a .274 ISO, .560 SLG%, and a 42.8% hard-hit rate last year. He’s projected to hit in the heart of the Cardinals lineup and the only player they’ve added to this point is Corey Dickerson, who’s likely going to serve as the designated hitter.
For a guy who could potentially hit 30 home runs and steal 20 bags if he topped 150 games, why not capitalize on the price tag as it continues to fall?
Josh Rojas, ARI (-13.0%)
What can keep Josh Rojas on the field is his ability to play multiple positions. Rojas has eligibility at SS, 2B, and OF and is projected to lead off for Arizona. But with the expectation that the Diamondbacks may add more depth, will that impact Rojas?
Rojas played 139 games last year and had a very solid .341 OBP while falling one stolen base shy of double-digit homers and stolen bases. He’s not going to be a guy that gets you 20-20, but he could possibly approach 80 runs and hover around a .350 OBP.
BUT with all that being said, we recently found out he had off-season shoulder surgery to clean up a joint in his non-throwing shoulder. It was said to be something that was bothering him since before the All-Star break last season. If he’s coming into 2022 healthy, I suspect his numbers revert back to his first-half stats, in which he posted a .762 OPS compared to the second half of .738. He’s a good buy while everyone is selling.
Fantasy Baseball 2022
- The Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Cheat Sheet
- Late-Round Starting Pitchers to Consider When Drafting
- Draft Guide: When To Draft Starting Pitching
- Draft Guide: Streaming Strategies for Hitters & Pitchers
- Fantasy Baseball March 18 Round-Up: Ronald Acuna to Open Season on Injured List